During the Korean War that broke out in 1950, the national armed forces retreated to the Nakdong River, but rehabilitated Seoul thanks to the Incheon Landing Operation. But again in 1951, they retreated again when the China’s Communist army intervened. After the ceasefire talks in July 1951, battles were restricted in several areas. Battles to contest hills began, and the fiercest battle among them was the battle at Baekma Goji.
Baekma Goji is a hill located at an altitude of 395 meters in Sinmyeong-ri, Myojang-myeon, Cheorwon, Gangwon Province. It was an unnamed hill until the war started and it became important terrain features to monitor the left side of Cheorui Samgakji. There are two theories related to the name of the hill. Some say that it was named Baekma Goji because the form of the hill after losing all trees due to shelling looked like a white horse, while others say a vice colonel of a regiment called it a white horse hill when talking to a foreign reporter. There is a panel explaining the origin of the hill’s name at the Baekma Goji Station.
On October 6-15, 1952, the hill was contested seven times by the ninth division of the Korean army and the 38th division of the Chinese troops, which suggests how intense their battle was. As many as 270,000 shells were fired during the battle, which is the most number of shells used in a battle during the Korean War. Some 13,000 Chinese soldiers and 3,000 Korean soldiered died. The ninth division of the Korean army was named Baekma Unit after the battle and selected as Maengho Unit (Capital Mechanized Division) in 1966 and was dispatched to Vietnam.
The two Koreas agreed to jointly recover remains of soldiers at the battlefields of Baekma Goji in Demilitarized Zone and confirm the agreement at the general-level talks this week. Recovering remains of soldiers at the place where the most ferocious battles have erupted is meaningful in many ways. To the north of the Baekma Goji Station is the Woljeongni Station, the northernmost point, famous for the phrase “We want to be back on track.” The Gyeongwon Line ends at this station. Hopefully, the recovery operation will lead to eliminating landmines and letting trains run further to the north.